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Low v. Tian Yu Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 9, 2015

LAI YOONG LOW, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TIAN YU INC., et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY PITMAN, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs Ji Hui Zhang and Lai Yoong Low seek to substitute Zhang, as representative of the estate of plaintiff Bin Xie, for Xie individually pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25 (Notice of Motion, dated December 8, 2014 (Docket Item 50)), and to amend the complaint to reflect that Zhang, in a representative capacity, has been substituted for Xie. The parties have consented to my exercising plenary jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

For the following reasons, I grant plaintiffs' motion for substitution, and I grant plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint to reflect Xie's substituted status.

II. Facts

Plaintiffs Zhang, Low and Xie commenced this action against their former employer, Tian Yu Inc. d/b/a Aki Sushi Restaurant Inc. ("Aki Sushi") and its principal, Zhao Yu Chen, to recover for various alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and New York Labor Law ("Labor Law"), N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 190 et seq., §§ 650 et seq. (Amended Complaint, dated December 18, 2012 (Docket Item 14) ¶¶ 1-2).

Xie died intestate on September 8, 2014 (Declaration of Benjamin Frederici, Esq., in Support of Motion for Substitution, dated December 8, 2014 (Docket Item 51) ("Frederici Decl.") ¶¶ 3-4; Xie's Death Certificate, annexed as Ex. 2 to Frederici Decl.). Defendants claim that Xie took his own life after shooting another person (Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Substitution Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 25, dated January 8, 2015 (Docket Item 57) ("Defs.' Mem.") at 7).

Plaintiffs initially sought to substitute Xie's wife, Yingmei Hu, for Xie based on the fact that she was "preparing papers to petition" for Letters of Administration of Xie's estate (Frederici Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6-7; Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Substitution Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 25, dated December 8, 2014 (Docket Item 52) ("Pls.' Mem.") at 4).

In their reply brief, however, plaintiffs abandoned their request to substitute Xie's wife and sought instead to substitute Zhang as the representative of Xie's estate (Plaintiffs' Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Substitution Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 25, dated February 9, 2015 (Docket Item 64) ("Pls.' Reply") at 1). Plaintiffs have submitted the Certificate of Appointment of Administrator ("Certificate"), dated January 16, 2015, which granted Letters of Limited Administration of Bin Xie's estate to Ji Hui Zhang (Certificate, annexed as Ex. 1 to Pls.' Reply). The limited letters prohibit Zhang from: (1) collecting or receiving any fund or property on behalf of Xie, (2) compromising an action on behalf of Xie, (3) enforcing a judgment entered in favor of Xie, or (4) compromising or enforcing a judgment in an action for Xie's wrongful death (Decree, annexed as Ex. 2 to Pls.' Reply).

III. Analysis

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25,
If a party dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court may order substitution of the proper party. A motion for substitution may be made by any party or by the decedent's successor or representative. If the motion is not made within 90 days after service of a statement noting the death, the action by or against the decedent must be dismissed.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(a)(1).

To substitute a party pursuant to Rule 25(a)(1), (1) the motion must be timely; (2) the claims must survive the decedent's death, and (3) the party sought to be substituted for the decedent must be a proper party. Allen ex rel. Allen v. Devine, 09-cv-668 (ADS)(ETB), 10-cv-1319 (ADS)(ARL), 2011 WL 5117619 at *2 (E.D.N.Y. ...


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